Bronzing Lotion Bars For Glowing Skin

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bronzing lotion bars
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » Bronzing Lotion Bars For Glowing Skin

Lotion bars are one of my favorite DIY beauty products. They’re compact, easy to travel with, and fun to make. I’ve created quite a few variations on my regular lotion bar recipe over the years. Today I’m sharing my bronzing lotion bars version.

I’m all for a natural-looking tan, and I’m not afraid of getting a sun-kissed glow outside. But sometimes (like in the winter), that’s not optimal. These body bronzer lotion bars give skin a natural glow and shimmer even when the sun’s not out.

I like using them in the warmer months too to protect my skin and as a moisturizer.

Sunscreen + Bronzing Lotion Bars

These bronzing lotion bars were inspired by a reader from Hawaii. She mentioned how she added coffee-infused oil to her lotion bars to get a bronzing effect. This inspired me to create a bronzing/bug-repelling/sunscreen bar that’s great for the beach.

The sunscreen part is optional as we like to get vitamin D when possible. If you aren’t used to natural sunscreens, I would test this carefully at first as it’s still a low SPF.

They also smell wonderful. I like to pack a bunch for the beach and keep them in a cooler so they don’t melt. If you’d prefer, leave out the beeswax for a lotion instead.

I found these bars left a mild bronzing effect, a little sun protection, and pest protection. Not so fun fact: bugs are still active in the winter in the South! If you don’t want/need a bug repelling bar, then there are plenty of other essential oil options.

Skincare Safe Essential Oils

Here are some essential oil blend ideas that support skin health and smell great in a lotion bar. You can also use any of the essential oils below on their own.

Conventional Bronzing Lotion

Tanning mousse, bronzing mousse, self-tanner, and other similar options aren’t on my list of products to use. They usually have chemicals I’d rather not put on my skin. Not to mention they’re often not as streak-free as claimed. I’d rather skip the application mitt and the orange tone.

The main chemical approved by the FDA for self-tanner use is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). The FDA also says to make sure not to get any DHA on mucus membranes, in the mouth, or to breathe it in. That last one can be a little hard when it’s being slathered on the skin.

Natural Bronzing Lotion Bars

There are a few ways to make natural sunless tanning body lotion bars. The sunless tanner effect is subtle, unlike some self-tanning lotion options at the store. I don’t worry about matching it to my skin tone since the bars aren’t very dark.

The first step is to use coffee-infused coconut oil for a hydrating, bronzing lotion. To add a little more color, I’ll also add some mica powder. This gives skin more of a shimmer than color. Or you can use some natural mineral makeup in a dark shade to give more coverage.

It won’t be the same as the sunless tanner from the makeup aisle, but in my opinion, that’s a good thing.

How to Infuse Coconut Oil with Coffee:

To get the natural bronzing effect, I infused coconut oil with finely ground coffee. I made a big batch so I’d have some to store, but you could cut this in half.

  1. Add 2 cups of coconut oil and 1 cup of very finely ground coffee in a double boiler.
  2. Simmer on low heat, stirring often, for several hours until the oil takes on a dark color.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth or old t-shirt and let cool.
  4. Use this for the coconut oil in the recipe below.
bronzing lotion bars
4.80 from 5 votes

Bronzing Lotion Bars For Glowing Skin

These coffee infused lotion bars give skin a healthy, natural glow. They even have optional SPF and bug protection!
Author: Katie Wells



  • Combine all of the ingredients except for the essential oils and mica in a quart-size mason jar. Carefully place the jar in a small saucepan of water on the stove. Or use a double boiler if preferred.
  • Bring the water to a low simmer. Stir the ingredients constantly until melted and smooth.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the essential oils and mica.
  • Carefully pour the mixture into your molds.
  • Allow the lotion bars to cool completely before popping them out of the molds.


  • Instead of individual molds, you can pour the lotion bars into a square silicone baking pan before cutting them into bars. 
  • Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

How to Use the Lotion Bars

To use, hold the bar in your hand and carefully rub it on dry skin. The skin’s heat will transfer some of the oils from the lotion bar onto the skin. I store mine on a small plate on my dresser and bathroom counter.

Additional Notes

The dark color won’t show in the bar, especially if you add zinc oxide. But it will darken the skin.

Some of the color can transfer to light-colored clothing. So be careful wearing white or light colors until the lotion has fully absorbed into the skin.

More Lotion Bar Options

Once you start making lotion bars you may not want to stop! Here are some of my other lotion bar recipes.

Don’t Want To Make Them?

Want to use lotion bars but don’t have the time or ingredients to make them yourself? My friends at Made On make all kinds of lotion bars, soaps, and other natural products that meet my high standards. They’ve agreed to give Wellness Mama readers a 15% discount on all orders with the code “wellnessmama” at checkout.

Learn more about Made On lotion bars and get them here.

 Ever made lotion bars? What’s your favorite type? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


56 responses to “Bronzing Lotion Bars For Glowing Skin”

  1. Krissy Avatar

    I’m not sure what coffee infused coconut oil is? The link goes to a regular coconut oil on Amazon. Help!

  2. Sharon Kline Avatar
    Sharon Kline

    HI, I have been reading all the comments and want to try these recipes. Is this recipe safe for people prone to hormonal acne? If not can you recommend an acne-free bronzing bar recipe?

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      I wouldn’t put this on the face if you struggle with hormonal acne. But any lotion bar is likely too thick for use in that case. I’d recommend a natural oil-free moisturizer. I personally also found that taking pantothenic acid really help my hormonal acne when I had it.

  3. Allie Avatar

    How long does the bronzing last? Just until you shower? Is it waterproof if you go to the pool/beach?

  4. Lisa Sage Avatar
    Lisa Sage

    Could I do the coffee/coconut oil in a crock pot overnight, do you think?

  5. Cindy Avatar

    Could I use instant coffee and let it dissolve well. I do not use ground coffee and hate to buy a container just for this?

  6. Cristal Avatar

    Just made… Thought it was REALLY dark so I opted to add the zinc ~ BIG MISTAKE! It looks like the bars in the pic, but when I tried it, well… I had wished I haven’t. NO darkening, actually, made my skin pretty white. Has anyone have it change to darken after a while?? I hope so, I mean I’ll use it as a sun protectant! cost too much not to use it. …but NOT why I wanted it ~~~
    ((Sad face))

  7. cloudy Avatar

    Instead of the dark mineral make-up could i use raw cacao powder? I saw a recipe that said to mix some with lotion as a bronzer… but i would love it in this recipe if you think it might work. Thanks

  8. Kelsi Avatar

    I’m confused about the zinc oxide, why do you add it in your recipes?
    It’s in inorganic compound which doesn’t seem like it should be good for you.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      The zinc oxide is a natural sunblock. Non-nano zinc oxide is safe, since it won’t be absorbed by your skin (just be careful not inhale the powder).

  9. Nancy Avatar

    Can this be made in a double boiler or does melting it in a glass jar have an affect on the product.

    Thank you

  10. Katie Avatar

    How long is the coffee infused coconut oil good by itself? What is the shelf life once stored in glass container?

  11. Gina Oliveira Avatar
    Gina Oliveira


    I discovered your blog about a year ago & have grown attached to so many of your recipes… Thank you, thank you, thank you. I made the basic lotion stick, it seems to be calming my (& my 2 year olds) Keratosis. Last summer I tied to make to sun screen bars & the zinc oxide kind of sunk to the bottom of my bars. Any suggestions on how to prevent this? I would love to try again, this time with the stick recipe.

  12. Luanne Avatar

    I boil hot water, and pour over my utensils, and wipe with a napkin. Works great!

  13. Kelsey Avatar

    Made these with friends and absolutely love them!! Agree with the above comment though- it seems to always be a struggle to get all of the wax off all of the utensils and items we use to make any of the lotion bars. Any recommendations? Also, I’ve noticed the bronzer seems to wear off pretty fast in the ones we made. Is there anything we can do to make it last longer- maybe just add more mineral bronzer?

  14. Fatima Avatar

    Not a big fan of this coffee+coconut oil smell. Is there anything I can do to change the smell without trashing it all? Essential oils arent available in this country.

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